Tuesday, January 24

Too Busy to Save Lives

If you take a look at this post and figure you can't read it in a minute you're going to 'do one', and that's fair enough. Attention spans are at a critical point, nobody has anytime for anything these days.

People hate reading instructions, wading though tutorials, watching How-To videos and anything that's going to teach them to do something properly, everyone is obsessed with the idea they're busy, and their time is ultra precious, why would they waste it on something they can probably skim read and 'fudge'.

A recent example of this is the Vinnie Jones CPR ad. It's a brilliant advert, the message is great, the script is funny and succinct, and the casting and music are spot on, but take a moment to think about what an important message that is, and how childishly it's been spoon fed to the public.

When the guidelines for first response medical recovery changed last year there was an important message to get out to the public, in the 80's they might have considered a Public Service Broadcast to get people's attention, but these days that's exactly the kind of thing people don't have time for, so instead advertisers have to think of ways into fooling people that they're not having their busy, busy schedule eaten into, and the only way to do this is to blitz them with 'fun'.

The ad takes an important set of instructions for SAVING SOMEONE'S LIFE and breaks them down to BeeGee's song, so we can all remember them. Is this evolution, is this how sophisticated we've all become, is this where our hectic schedules have got us? We all think we're a more sophisticated generation then our parents, but I'm positive they were never too busy to watched a boring Public Service Broadcast about how to save a life.

I'm not blaming the ad, it's brilliant, I'm just saying if we carry on being so busy we have to be spoon fed life saving information to music, then I see a not too distant future where One Direction sing the news, and event though Harry's hair is beyond perfect, we can't allow that.

Hope that was less than a minute. Thanks for your time.

Here's the ad:

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Thursday, January 19

Yellow is the new Punk Rock

Obvious really, I don't want to patronise you, but I'll make my case.
Things move in cycles, and for the last few years we've worked our way though the process colours in some kind of salute to the simplicity of the times, even though the 'times' have been really complicated and that doesn't make any sense, perhaps we've all subconsciously mourned the loss of simplicity whilst moaning that our iPhones can't scrape the ice off our windscreens.
So back in late 90's we were all very Black, people loved saying "Black is the new Black," and it became sophisticated to make everything Black, it was shorthand for quality and it's absence of light was reflective of the era, as the Prophet Richard Madeley filled his bath tub with hand wipes bottled water and waited for the Millennium Bug to destroy our Black world.
This was Colour's Metal Period.
Then we all woke up to a new dawn of realisation; we weren't going to die if our nan's Microwave reset it's clock. This gave us new hope and everything went Blue, Facebook now owned Blue, taking it from monolithic companies like Intel and HP. The Facebook blue went though several changes with millions of people threatening never to post on their wall again if they changed it one more time. They did change it, and everyone continued to post what they were having for tea, everyday.
This was Colour's ambitious Folk Period
The markets were buoyant, pocket money averages were at an all time high, and people on benefits were enjoying Spa Days, these really were the glory days, nothing could stop us now. The Magenta reflected the opulence we all enjoyed, these really were Romanic times, grapes were everywhere and everyone was so happy, the only thing they had to worry about was what was going to go wrong, and they didn't have long to wait.
This was colours Prog Period.
This brings us crashing into the current day. Times are hard again, people are depressed the world is looking for a new hope, something to blow away the sickly memories of Magenta, but still to give them hope, the people have turned to Yellow to do this. 
Yellow is the new Punk Rock, it's given us all hope, it's saying if I can do this, a colour that doesn't really work against white, a colour that makes people think of dehydrated urine, and colour that means 'passive or scared,' then you, yes you can do anything. Use it.
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Tuesday, January 17

First Touch

For football fans who like Soccer Am more than actual football, and think Tim Lovejoy is more influential on the game than Tim Sherwood, Johann Cruyff is the pinnacle of cool. The above video is probably something that they've never seen before and it shows what some people think is the greatest first touch of all time, now I've not seen every first touch, but from the limited range I have, it's pretty smart. He puts exactly enough stink on the ball to drop it into an area just right to run onto and bend it round the keeper. Sweet.

But really, what does this have to do with you, and the marketing industry as a whole, well… nothing really. Except the words 'First Touch' do have marketing connotations, and your first touch with a customer had better put you into enough space to delicately bend the ball around the keeper, and not fall flat on your nuts in front of the away fans. Your first touch could be anything, from your hair cut to your business card, your website to your Facebook Page, basically anything that's going to give a potential customer a first impression of what kind of business they're going dealing with and getting it right is essential, get it wrong and a precious opportunity could be wasted.

So, there's nothing I can do about your haircut, and even if I pitched an idea you'd not listen, but there is something I can do about your brand. A strong brand is created not from a logo, but from an idea of what the company is about, what is does, what it means to people and what is can offer. Only from this clear proposition can a brand can flourish. If everything is built from this idea upwards then your brand will be strong, aligned and have the potential to create a positive first touch for all potential customers that encounter it. Understanding the importance of a solid brand is only for those people that know what their business means to other people, and want to create something that embraces this, the people that dismiss this way of thinking are really just Emile Hesky when he was at Liverpool. Speak to Citizen about creating a positive first touch.

Get in touch ben@citizenstudios.co.uk Visit www.citizenstudios.co.uk Or call 07738 175 614

Thursday, January 12

New Cassettes – Winterhead

Popular electric indie rock beat combo The New Cassettes approached me about a year ago to create the art for their new album on N13 Records and of course I agreed. we met in The Charles Bradlaugh and discussed what they were looking for. They wanted something reflective of their ideas behind the music, less abstract than perhaps some people might approach this, and with a little bit of Roxy Music sexiness thrown in. 

My first idea was to find out what the band actually thought the music was about, so I asked them to each put together around 5-10 images for each song that represented it's origins, they did this and I created this montage:

This gave me a texture with which to fill my illustration, I wanted to use this with shading to create a layered affect across skin tones and body shapes, so the next stage was to create the model for the montage to sit within, this was done with this illustration, that kept the limbs and chair separate so that could be selected and different parts of the montage layered in:

Next step was to drop parts of the montage into the areas of the illustration, then apply the shading and draw the hair, the end result was a 1000mmx1000mm illustration that I could crop into to make different covers and pages for the booklet, and never reveal the full piece of work;

And that's how it was done, simple but effective and a beautiful piece of work that captures the spirit of the band, and the ideas behind the music.

The album is out this March on N13 Records.

Please get in touch is you'd like Citizen to develop album or single artwork for you, or if you have any questions on how this artwork was created.

Or call 07738 175 614

Monday, January 9

Stop worrying about 1984, it's over...

People think they hate adverts, they think they hate being marketed too, and that all promotions are evil ways of trying to suck some money out of their wallet. They think this, until they see an advert that appeals to them and makes them spend some money, then after that, they hate adverts again. 

This is how our generation is, we're all about skipping the ads on Sky Planner, ignoring them in magazines and moaning about them on websites, 
What if every advert was directly for you, what if you'd grown up in a world where advertisers only bothered you when they had something you wanted, at the price you wanted to pay for it? Then advertising isn't annoying, it's helpful. Well, this is the world we live in today, and until we stop being scared of a faux 'Big Brother Society,' and stop worrying that someone is going to download our saved games on Grand Theft Auto and a million photos of us in the pub, then our generation is never going to get there. We've got to be flexible on what we consider to be 'Orwellian Measures' and accept that fewer, more relevant messages is far more acceptable than a thousand irrelevant ones.
Web and mobile Location Services are the key to this. The kids growing up now think nothing of broadcasting their location every minute of the day on sites like Facebook and Foursquare, but us grown ups snigger at them for thinking 1984 was just a year Band Aid happened, they don't understand the dangers of people knowing where they area all the time, back in our day nobody knew where we were, and obviously that was much safer!
As ever the kids are alright, they're the ones accepting this, without knowing why they need to hide themselves all the time, or without understanding the social pressure to fear corporations and data collection, they are in fact freeing themselves from an old, crippling school of thought that opens up endless opportunity, and potentially declutters their lives from pointless communications.
Of course I don't want to publish my PIN code on Facebook and I don't want people to know when I'm doing a poo, but that's not how these things are set up, they're built with care and security and we have to trust them. Ultimately that's easier if you have nothing to hide, but Location Services aren't there to catch people out, they're there for a new generation of Nano-Targeted advertising, they're there so when you breakdown you get an advert for the AA, when you're having a party you know where to get a cake, and they're there to free you from the DFS Bank Holiday sale advert where everyone's laying on an unmade bed - unless you want a bed of course.
The youth are never wrong about these things, just like they were about The Beatles, Punk Rock and Wham Bars, they know how to live in their times. They'll laugh at us in 40 years as we cower away in an old people's home paranoid the government is spying on our phone, then they'll take us to the toilet and post on Facebook we're doing a poo, so you see, we can never win.

Or call 07738 175 614

Tuesday, January 3

2012 Let's Make This Happen...

My office was never this cold, it really wasn't this is disgusting, why did I sit here in the cold, typing stuff, when I could be playing Hungry Hippos (with Maltesers) by the fire.

So far 2012 has been boring, no uprising, riots, overdoses or choirs made up of soldiers wives, so let's make some predictions for 2012...

1. People will get bored of Facebook changing all the time.

Timeline launches on the 9th Jan, and it's a pretty big step forward, it breaks down your whole life into a time line of Facebook events (actually quite a depressing thought), starting from your birth, then skipping to when you joined Facebook and then running through all the events from there.

I don't know about you, but recently I've been a bit frustrated with Facebook, and left with a feeling I'm not as involved with friends posts as I used to be, it seems to have become a little too insular, and I think this is a result of it worrying too much about Google+ 's USP of exclusivity. Which brings us onto our next point...

2. Social Exclusivity

Google+ started this, and Facebook has also developed the way it works to incorporate it. This is all happening because the rate people are gathering friends across all platforms, in about 15 years time everyone will be connected to everyone, and then everything is ruined. Advertising becomes less targeted, messages become diluted and communication is back to being 'mass', and loses it's 'Nano' appeal.

Earlier this year asked this question to Dave Kerpen and he told me that these sites are dealing with this by forcing people to group their contacts, and target their messages more directly to those groups. You can see this happening across the platforms, but if it's going to work, the algorithms that make these calculations for you, (especially on Facebook) have got to get more intelligent.

3. Some Famous People will Die

I've been thinking about this a lot, but here's the official Deathlist 2012.

4. BandApp Will Be Huge

There's a new app coming for Bands, it's been around of 2 years, but it's being rebuilt, rebranded and relaunched, and Citizen are at the heart of this new initiative. Citizen, along side Colin Hayward of Monogram Digital have just signed an 18 Month deal to be part of the team that makes this App, the biggest distribution aid for unsigned Bands. I'll keep you posted on this.

What do you think's going to happen, get you predictions in now before they happen.

Or call 07738 175 614